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Homemade Injera (and a Baker’s Delight Giveaway!)

4 Jun

A homemade Ethiopian meal: Kitfo, Raafu, Fuul on freshly made Injera

Here in Portlandia, a city resplendent with good food, we have our choice of tasty Ethiopian restaurants. In fact, we have so many that I choose a different one, depending on the item on the menu I’m most craving and who does that item best. If I want the yummiest Fuul (or I’m in a hurry and want a quick but awesome buffet), I go to Enjoni Cafe — plus they have this very cool coffee ceremony that is totally worth it. If I want the best Kitfo in town and a great family feeling, I head to Dalos (here’s my reviewfrom my days a food critic). If want lamb and spot-on lentils, I hit Sengatera Ethiopian Restaurant and if I am dying for a great chicken Sambusa I go to Horn of Africa. (And that’s only half of what Portland has to offer in Ethiopian fare.) 

But sometimes, you just want to hang out at home (or your budget requires that you hang out at home) and for those times, I decided to embark on a bit of Ethiopian home cooking in my home. Today’s post will be injera but in the days that follow, I will supply you with the rest of these knock-out, homemade recipes for Kitfo, Fuul and Raafu (as pictured above.) Continue reading

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World of Cocoa: Rich Cacao-Onion Gravy

1 May

Roasted meats, mashed potatoes and even roasted root veggies rejoice — rich Cacao-Onion Gravy will make you sing! OK, maybe that’s over-selling it —  but just by a bit.

As part of the six unique recipes I came up with for my exploration into the World of Cocoa (courtesy of Savory Spice Shop) here on GF, I’ve trotted out savory Cocoa-Dusted Bleu Cheese Truffles, brightly flavored Strawberry-Arugula Salad with Cocoa Vinaigrette and Spiced Cocoa-Crusted Pork Loins Chops so far.  (Hope you’ve enjoyed them — I know we did!)

Today, I’d like to introduce you to cocoa or rather ground raw cacao powder in this rich gravy. Cacao powder is essentially cocoa powder but in its purest, most unadulterated powder form. This powder is made by cold-pressing raw cacao beans with the temperature never exceeding 120° F (this is what qualifies it as raw.) Regular cocoa powders are often exposed to temperature as high as 300°.  The minimal processing of cacao powder allows for maximum flavor, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Continue reading

Cocoa Recipes: Strawberry-Arugula Salad with Cocoa Balsamic Dressing

20 Apr

In the world of cocoa, the discovery process is never-ending.

The story of the origins of this “Food of the Gods” (translated from its Latin, Theobroma Cacao) as well as its uses by ancient South American cultures is truly amazing. As are the many varied uses for this bean from the cocoa pod (fruit). Continue reading

Hazelnut Maple-Berry Cobbler (*Gluten-free)

19 Mar

Coombs Family Farms Maple Syrup sent me and the rest of the Virtual Potluck folks a sample of their wares. We got the choice of maple sugar or maple syrup. Since I have a household that adores real maple syrup — we chose the syrup. Continue reading

True Citrus Zing Salad Dressing

14 Mar

When Virtual Potluck was approached to work with True Lemon, I was hesitant.

As a native Californian (only transplanted in the Pacific Northwest) citrus is like home to me. The idea of NOT grabbing a fresh lemon or lime for a recipe seemed, frankly, a little nuts to me.

I grew up with a lemon tree in my Granny Jason’s backyard in sunny southern California, from which she would make the most insanely delicious lemon meringue pie. (No, I won’t be trying it with True Lemon– granny’s pie is sacred!) Continue reading

Making the Paleo Diet Easier with Paleo People Gluten-Free Granola

8 Feb

As part of the Build a Better Me Healthy Blogging Challenge, I have been trying my best to cut down on carbs in my diet (including baked goods and chocolate– though I have to admit, I haven’t been doing so well on the chocolate front!)

Carbs and Gluten

Besides cutting down on carbs, I’m also exploring the world of gluten-free food. While I do not have Celiac Disease (as many who go gluten-free do) I do feel like I might have a mild intolerance to wheat flour. This is an important distinction because those who are dealing Celiac have an autoimmune disease, not a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance.

Fresh Veggies and. . .Chocolate?

We already eat plenty of fresh organic veggies in our household and pretty strictly use whole foods ingredients, but when it comes to sweets — I have a serious problem.  That’s why this new low carb, gluten-free lifestyle has been hard for me.

I have absolutely no problem tucking into a big salad — some homemade soup like curried carrot apple ginger, broccoli mint or butternut squash or eating broiled salmon topped with sautéed zucchini, tomato and mushroom and served with quinoa couscous and a large helping of wilted kale salad or roasted broccoli. This IS food I love.

But afterward, I crave something sweet and preferably chocolatey. Let me be clear here– I know chocolate is chock full of great stuff for you and packed with amazing health benefits but NOT when it comes loaded with sugar. So, I’d been making do with homemade hot chocolate, using Dutch cocoa, unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk and a drizzle of honey.

But I was dying for snack– one besides a handful of almonds and a clementine. Something with a bite or chew or a crunch but something that felt distinctly naughty but most especially– chocolate-y.

Then Paleo People Granola showed up at my door — four bags of it, to be precise.

The Wait is Over

First, I should say, I’m NOT a granola person (no matter how many veggies I eat.) I like bacon and butter and chocolate– real chocolate — not those lame carob chips they stick into granola. Most granolas annoy me– they’re either too sugary sweet or they taste like cardboard. I enjoy a handful of trail mix from time to time– but it has to be the good stuff (no peanuts or raisins.) I prefer trail mixes with cashews, almonds, cranberries, cherries and of course, chocolate. But granola — Ugh! No way!

But then, the Paleo People offered to sponsor the VP bloggers in our efforts by sending us some granola. At first, I begged off, saying “Sorry, I’m going gluten-free,” but then Theresa at Food Hunter’s Guide said, “Perfect– it’s gluten-free.”

“Hmph” — no more excuse– I was in.

When I opened the box from Paleo People I was greeted with four 5 oz bags of granola. It arrived at 3pm — right between lunch and dinner. I was dying for a snack.

What flavors did they send? The requisite apple something, something with bananas (I hate those crusty banana chips!)– cappuccino (hmmm, interesting) What? Wait? What?! Cacao Nut — Cacao means chocolate. I tore into the bag — something was better than nothing. I popped a piece in my mouth, waiting for the cringe factor but then . . . bliss.

It was crunchy but not too crunchy, chewy but not raisin-y sweet and there was plenty of sweet and chocolate but not in a heavy corn syrupy way. This was awesome. This was the most awesome granola I’d ever tasted.

About this time the hubby barged in wanting to know what I gotten.

“Granola,” I answered between bites.

“Oh,” he said and turned to walk back out of the kitchen.

“No wait, it’s good. Come here, try the apple or the banana one.”

No way was he getting my chocolate.

I tore open the Cappuccino Crunch, while he eased open the Apple Crisp. The cappuccino was okay but it was no chocolate — maybe I’d gotten the only yummy bag in the bunch — but then, he smiled.

“Man, this stuff is good.”

“It is?!”

“Yeah, try some,” he held the bag out for me.

“Ok, but that will be your bag because you’re not getting any of my chocolate . . . Well, you can have a taste.”

The Apple Crisp was great for apple — I mean, the only apple I usually like is one from a tree– not in pies or cobblers and especially not in granola– but I liked this and he LOVED it.

We both adored the Banana Nut Crunch — just yummy banana flavor — none of the crusty enamel breaking, hard chips of banana.

Neither of us liked the Cappuccino but that’s probably because it tasted like Folgers to us and NOT cappuccino. But if you’re the kind of person who likes Americanos, I bet you’ll love this one.

The hubs was in love with the apple and I could not bear to part with my chocolate (though we both did attempt sharing with our son — who favored the banana.) All was right with the world.

Anyway, Paleo People saved me — just when I needed a fix, they swooped in with their delish granola treats and made it all better. I could do this low carb, gluten-free thing (at least until the granola gave out!)

(Psst! Paleo People, if you’re listening: Send MORE granola!!)

Paleo People Giveaway

If you’re going gluten-free or are one of the many people taking part in a Paleo Diet — you’ll LOVE Paleo People but even if you’re completely unfettered by issues with carbs or gluten, I think you’ll find Paleo People Granola to be a nutritious and healthful way to snack.

Paleo People Granola is filled with “the good stuff” like:

Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts

Fruit: raisins, apples, bananas

Seeds: flax, sunflower and pumpkin

Other good tasting, good-for-you goodies: coconut oil, cacao nibs, honey, coconut and spices.

*Wanna WIN a four pack of Paleo People for yourself? Just comment below for your chance to win.*

Winner will be chosen at random.

*Wanna increase your chances of winning? Visit the Paleo People Host Page at Food Hunters Guide to Cuisine and find out how to enter to win on all participating Virtual Potluck Blogs.*

This product was sent free for review but as always, the opinions are my own.

WINNER: Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the winner of the Paleo People giveaway entering for her best friend, who is pregnant! Congratulations Marnely and ultimately, Joella!

Valentine’s Day Recipe: Pomegranate, Beet Root and Blood Orange Sorbet

2 Feb

Valentine’s Day — synonymous with hearts and the color red.

It has a long history, steeped in blood.

Blood that runs through your veins, pumps from your heart, through your body, quickening your pulse, as your heart flutters and your skin becomes heated, flushed pink– maybe red, in anticipation of the touch of your loved one.

My favorite love poem is by Pablo Neruda.

I share it with you today, not only because it is utterly beautiful but because it speaks to the heart of the dish I have created for you this Valentine’s Day.

Salt Rose (or rose salt, as you like it.)

Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

This is the root of my dish. The deepest hues of red found in nature, imbue this dish with its ruddy stain and yet — I didn’t wish it to be sweet. Even with citrus and sugared beet and pomegranate, I wanted this dish to be like love — deep, sensual, sometimes dark, with a bit of a bite but paired always with the purity of something creamy, soft and pale in juxtaposition — like joy, like a new baby’s fragrant flesh, like the naiveté of a young lover’s first kiss.

As I thought about the flavor palette for this Intermezzo, I chose beet root for its earthy, dark taste, with just a hint of sweetness; blood orange for its fragrance and hue but also its citric zing; pomegranate for its sour as well as sweet qualities; and then I decided on thyme. Rosemary seemed too obvious and might just overpower, stealing the show but thyme — thyme is a gracious herb, yielding and harmonious, it nurtures and supports other flavors with its warm, aromatics. And thyme fittingly, originates from the  Greek word thymon, meaning “courage.” The kind of courage one must muster to declare your love for the first time — thyme is also long considered an aphrodisiac.

But we were still in danger of being a little too sweet. It lacked ardor, it needed something stronger, like that bite on the neck at the height of passion, to take it over the edge — radish. Sharp, spicy, could turn bitter if used in the wrong proportions. It was risky, like love — radish was perfect.

Pairing it with a creamy, but tart and earthen scented goat cheese, sprinkled with thyme leaves and crushed almonds would ensure a rich, silken mouth-feel, with neither flavor (sorbet nor cheese) becoming overbearing. The almonds would lend the dish some much-needed texture and crunch to round out the experience.

The result was divine.

My husband raved and devoured it.

I ate each bite slowly, luxuriating in the flavor play and textural balance.

Digital camera on the fritz- this is what you get when you go old skool. New pic to come.

A small serving goes a long way.This dish is meant to whet the appetite for a richer meal and the promise of what comes after. . .

Pair it with the drink created especially for it by Otis’ from Taste on The N8tion,  or with a slim glass of dry champagne to cleanse the palate.

But whatever you do — enjoy!

Savory Pomegranate, Beet Root and Blood Orange Sorbet

  • 1 1/2 lbs red beets, trimmed, peeled and cut into four
  • 3 large or 4 med radishes, cleaned, trimmed and cut in two (leave the peel in tact)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed blood orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 sprigs of thyme leaves removed and crushed between your fingers
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preparation:

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cover the beets with just enough water to completely submerge them and boil until they are fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Halfway through cooking time, add the radishes and cook until fork tender as well.

Drain the water.

Process the hot beets and radishes in a food processor or blender with the remaining ingredients, until smooth puree is formed.

Chill the mixture for an hour, finish with an ice cream maker as directed by manufacturer or freeze in an airtight container for another 2 to 4 hours before removing to serve. Let thaw 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with creamy chèvre , topped with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and crushed almonds.


Easy Homemade Calzone: A Tasty and Healthy New Year

26 Jan

It’s no secret, we love Italian food around my house — specifically, a great homemade pizza. I have perfected the art of pizza making in The GrooVy Foody household, trying out tons of dough recipes until I came across one that is, our idea, of perfection. So for my last recipe entry in Bob’s Red Mill(BRM) and California Olive Ranch(COR) Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge I decided to put that crust to the test — in a Calzone.

Crimini mushrooms, red onion and Italian herb blend

An Un-Whole-y Confession

Red onion, Crimini mushrooms, spinach and herbs

Though, we prefer and mostly eat whole food, cooked from scratch in our house, I will confess, that after a busy day, I have been known to pop into Trader Joe’s for pre-made doughs (in whole wheat, regular and herb), a jar of their vodka sauce, a package of nitrate-free prosciutto and some free range chicken in order to throw together my chicken, prosciutto and vodka sauce pizza, topped off with TJ’s fresh-in-the-bag organic arugula. This pizza is a crowd pleaser and it’s some that if you make it for guests, they will think you are something of a culinary mastermind, when indeed you just threw together some high quality, but pre-packed goods for a quick and easy, tummy pleasing meal.

Layered filling ingredients

Best, Quick Pizza (Calzone) Dough EVER!

But, had you just a few minutes more or a wee bit more energy, you could make your own crust and sauce (or as I do, pull some of my famous Bolo-Nessie sauce out of the freezer or grab that jar of organic sauce off the shelf at TJ’s) for a truly memorable pizza experience. Not surprisingly, the best pizza crust recipe I have EVER come across for the quick and easy variety, is one by Bob’s Red Mill (told you, I was a fan before they sponsored me!) TIP:they also sell a really great gluten-free pizza crust mix.

Into the oven

Now, there are many crust recipes on BRM’s website (many contributed by fans) but let me tell which one I prefer out of all of them — it’s Bob’s own Quick and Easy Pizza Dough and here’s why:  it’s quick AND easy just like it says. Plus, it has a wonderful chew to it, as well as the perfect texture for folks, who like a thin, floppy, New York style crust with a good pull to it.

But the REAL secret to good pizza dough is in the yeast — and BRM’s is some of the freshest, most active yeast I’ve ever worked with. Just beautiful and it lasts a long while. One 8oz bag, when stored properly, can last you for months. (If you can keep it that long because once you learn how easy this great crust can be, you’ll never call out for pizza or as in this case, Calzone, again.)

 

Finito

I used BRM’s Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and COR’s Arbequina Olive Oil for a Calzone that high in flavor but also packed full of fiber and good nutrition. My hubby and son love pepperoni, so we filled our Calzone with a thin layer of soft goat cheese, the nitrate-free variety of pepperoni you can find made by Applegate Farms or Hormel’s new preservative-free line of products, sautéed red onion and Crimini mushrooms, and topped it with a layer of grated whole milk mozzarella. I serve  this with a marinara or Homemade Bolo-Nessie sauce on the side for dipping.

Mangia!

QUICK & EASY PIZZA or CALZONE DOUGH

Adapted from: Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods 

  • 1 cup Warm Water (110°F)
  • 2 tsp 1/4 BRM’s Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp  sugar
  • 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups  BRM Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp California Olive Ranch Olive Oil (plus more for top and pan)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease pizza pan with a light coating of COR olive oil; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water — let bubble for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously 20 strokes and let rest 5 minutes.

FOR PIZZA:

On a floured work surface with a floured rolling-pin, roll out the dough until it is the size of the pan you will be using.

Place dough on prepared pan. Spread sauce over dough and top with your favorite toppings. Bake on middle rack of oven for 15-20 minutes. Makes one 16-inch pizza crust (12 slices).

FOR CALZONE:
  • Tear or cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out dough on floured surface or stretch and toss by hand until it is double the desired size of your Calzone.
  • Fill with cheese, herbs, veggies and desired meat of your choice, keeping a 1 inch lip around the edge of the dough, filling-free so that you will be able to seal it properly. Be sure to take care not to over-stuff your Calzone and to get a nice balance of flavors.
  • Next, crimp, fold or otherwise seal the edge of your Calzone with a fork along 1 inch lip all around the edge. This will ensure your filling stay tidily inside.
  • Then, lightly coat the outside of you Calzone with olive oil using either a pastry brush or your hands and cut three venting slits in the top of your Calzone and place it on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake on middle rack of oven for 12-16 minutes.  Makes 4 medium-sized Calzones.

YOUR LAST CHANCE TO WIN!!!

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

Valentine’s Day Recipes with Virtual Potluck and Taste

26 Jan

A delight for an anniversary or Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Virtual Potluck is going to show you how to make more than reservations this year. Each week until Valentine’s Day four of our 12 bloggers will be putting their best food forward as part of a 4 course lovers feast and what Valentine’s Day is complete without a TASTE-y libation? So we teamed up with Otis over at Taste on The N8tion.com to make us custom cocktails to go with each course — they even whipped up some yummy non-alcoholic beverages to help you celebrate, even if you don’t imbibe.

About Taste on The N8tion

Taste is a new mixology show that features cool cocktails from the common guy. From the creative minds at N8tion.com, our resident “booze head” Otis showcases classic and not-so-classic cocktail recipes. Who is Otis???? We found him under a bar in downtown Atlanta nursing a Corona while holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. No seriously, after tending bars for countless college parties, he honed his bartending skills in local taverns on the nights he wasn’t moonlighting as a bouncer. Taste is a product of N8tion.com, an independent television and radio network founded by brothers Myron and Otis McDaniel.

This week’s participating VP blogs and their dishes

Check them all out and keep an eye out for next week’s 4 course Valentine’s Day Menu.

*APPETIZER by  Diabetic Foodie:  Sweet Potato Wontons

This dish is paired with a  non-alcoholic and low carb drink called A Night in Old Mandaly

*INTERMEZZO by Thyme in Our Kitchen  French onion soup

This dish is paired with a non-alcoholic drink called Light La Garda.

 

*ENTREE Cookistry: Noodles with Tomatoes, fresh basil and artichoke hearts

This meal is paired an alcoholic drink called a Grand Ginger.

 

*DESSERT by Farm Girl Gourmet: Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

This dessert is paired with an alcoholic drink called A Peace of Heaven

Building a Better Me with Tasty and Healthy New Year’s Cooking Adventures

10 Jan

Raising a toddler and juggling the full-time feast-or-famine-always-gotta-hustle solopreneur lifestyle of a freelance writer can be taxing enough, but with all that’s going on around here on The GrooVy Foody — creating new recipes, partnerships, promotions and giveaways and plans for more, I need good energy more than ever before.

Being a food blogger, of course, hasn’t helped matters — I cook, I take photos, I eat, I sit and write. Know what all of this translates into — besides awesome site stats? Pounds on my ass.

This is where my renewed commitment to healthful eating and a healthier lifestyle (exercise anyone?) comes into play. Apparently, others have these thoughts of renewal at the start of a new year and call them (wait for it!). . .resolutions?! 😉

My friends in the Virtual Potluck are no exception, which is why we’ve all decided to help each other in our journeys for balance and a healthier us in 2012! So, in addition to the awesome promo going on all month here (and on the 11 other VP Bloggers sites) for A Tasty and Healthy New Year, we’re launching Build a Better Me, a year long challenge to eat more healthfully, blog about it, get a bit of exercise and try and maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Well, you’ll still get the occasional decadent dessert post  (watch out this Valentine’s Day for chocolate and cocktails!) It’s just that you’ll also be getting plenty of healthful and delicious (if it’s not delicious — we don’t eat it!) food recipes to help you stay on track with your resolutions too!

For all of the members of VP and foodies everywhere — eating healthfully means finding a balance between nourishing and nurturing — between being painfully stuffed or pleasantly satiated and as always it means local and organic (when available) whole foods ingredients. It also means stepping away from the computer for a 15 minute power walk a couple of times a day, stretching and drinking lots of water.

For me,it will also mean that I’m cutting gluten from my diet for a bit — so for readers who are looking at reducing gluten in their diets or for those that have Celiac disease, I’ll be exploring the world of gluten-free goodies and recipes for a while here on the site.

(I promise it won’t be every post!)

Happy Eating!